I’ll go ahead and say it: you’re straight up lying through your teeth if you claim Target didn’t serve as an integral part of your freshman year of college experience. Without Target, how else would I have been remotely prepared to arrive on-campus, ubiquitous octopus lamp in hand? To be sure, I’m appreciative of everything Target did for me going into college, especially in the dorm department—which is why the mega-retailer’s brand-new YouTube mini-series “Best Year Ever” has quickly and forcibly crept up into my must-watch list.
While I graduated college more than two years ago, I’m still a sucker for anything and everything dorm-related; what is a New York City apartment if not a glorified dorm suite, no? “Best Year Ever,” a makeover video series that melds reality TV and a design challenge show in a way that aims to inspire college-age kids.
Due to Lucky’s (and my personal) unabashed love for all things home décor, we jumped at the chance to exclusively showcase one particular design project spearheaded by Ann Le, a YouTube style star, and Veronica Valencia, a Los Angeles-based designer, stylist and blogger. As you’ll see, the eternally stylish duo transformed two sophomore students’ spacious dorm room into something more lived-in and Pinterest-like. I was thrilled to ask Valencia a handful of design-related questions, too.
Read on for her sage decorating wisdom, and take a peek at the just-released episode below. Finally, we pulled together 14 shots of space’s before and after—because who doesn’t die for a good home makeover?
Lucky: When you’re decorating a dorm room, the first priority is often to make sure you’re filling it with items that aren’t too valuable. In this case, how did you find those lovely pieces of décor that fit the student’s style but that were also college-appropriate?
Veronica Valencia: Style isn’t about a price tag, it’s about an idea. Think about how you want to live in the space as much as what you need for it and build your list accordingly. Be open to vintage. So many of my fave finds have come from flea markets and rummage sales. If something looks worn, it can always be painted or shined up.
Are you big on feng shui? In your experience, can that really breathe fresh air a space?
I can’t say that I follow feng shui, but I do believe energy is key to a space. Think about how to match your spirit to your room. Accessories are a great way to imbibe with your energy. Reach for what you love. And, lighting is key to setting the tone. I say nix overhead and go with a mix of table lamps and floor lamps.
Now that the lifestyle sphere is becoming such an important part of the fashion/publishing industry, what’s your go-to trick that everyone can do to give their space some oomph?
My best tip actually has less to do with style and more to do with space, or lack thereof. No one ever has enough room. Edit out what you don’t need and make room for what you love. To do that you have to be organized: foot stools that double as storage or a shoe rack in the closet becomes your jewelry holder. Putting away the clutter makes room for the look you want to shine through.
Art is so important in every space. Do you have any favorite shops or sites that provide a fun variety of prints?
I am a photo junkie and love taking pictures and framing my own, and not just recent ones. Frame your parents’ wedding photo, or turn that picture of you riding a bike for the first time into black and white. Save menus from your first date, invitations from your first formal, a love note from your significant other, concert tickets, whatever. Display them in frames like the Room Essentials’ 6-Opening Frame Collage.
Your Instagram is gorgeous! Any editing or app secrets you can tell us?
Thanks! My boyfriend sometimes calls himself my personal paparazzi! I love photos and capturing everything. That’s the mark of our generation that we get to live who we are and put it out there every day. It no longer lives on a dusty coffee table shelf in an album! As for a tip, work those angles until you discover what suits you and keep doing that!
Quick! You have half an hour and $20 in your pocket, and you’re on a mission to give a space a rapid-fire update. What do you do?
Toss all the clutter in an ottoman, put a tray on top, add your fave coffee table book and a bud vase filled with flowers you picked up at the store. Instant happy. Instant style.
Tune into Target’s first episode of “Best Year Ever” below: